The Getaway - Part III
My final far-flung Letterboxing excursion was to the closest National Park neighbour - Exmoor. Think of Exmoor and you may think of Lorna Doone or the Valley of the Rocks, Lynton & Lynmouth or perhaps Johnny Kingdom and the red deer. I'd always considered Exmoor, away from the coastline to be characterised by tight valleys and grassy upland, far less rugged than Dartmoor. I was keen to discover if my preconceptions were true.
I'd found two clues for boxes around Wood Barrow via Gamblenet. This grassy hill sits to the West of the park, and the summit cairn straddles the Devon - Somerset border. It also is located on the Tarka Trail, an undefined long distance path that links the North coast with Dartmoor. My walk up to Wood Barrow followed this trail from the main road at the Edgerley Stone - one of several uncut, local rocks intended to mark the 13th century boundary of the Royal Forest of Exmoor, but now marks the county line. It is inscribed with 'F Isaac', 'F Bray', and an OS benchmark.
Wood Barrow is 470 metres above sea level - the highest of my out-of-area summits. This puts it about the same height as Longaford Tor, but Exmoor's highest point - Dunkery Beacon - off to the East is one of the Southern England's highest points.
The letterboxes were sited in the nearby Woodbarrow Hangings - a deep twisting combe winding off to the North. One box, with just a six figure grid ref was found quickly and on site. Well hidden, and with just a dozen or so entries in the visitors book, this box has remained undiscovered for much of it's 23 years (!) on the moor. The other box proved more elusive, and I failed to find it. I suspected, as with many boxes on Bodmin Moor, it was missing, and this was due to the 10 figure grid reference it offered. Anyone with a smartphone and a free App could locate this box, since the clue is widely available. This is surely the same fate Dartmoor Letterboxes face with full grid references.
The views from the rim of Woodbarrow Hangings were impressive in the late afternoon sunshine. The Bristol Channel is close by, and is full of ships, mostly large cargo vessels. The narrow channel allowed views beyond to the Welsh mountains - a Letterboxing destination that would have to wait. My route back to the car was via the absurdly named Pinkery Pond. Pinkery is a local disambiguation of Pinkworthy (this IS North Devon!). The manmade pond dams the River Barle, though the purpose for this 19th century creation remains unknown although several theories exist.
Heading South, down the river valley, I passed the Pinkery Youth Hostel and Outdoor Adventure Centre. Clearly a significant investment has been made here in both the building and in a wind turbine to provide electricity.